Not many bonafide celebrities also fit in Tete a Tat's wheelhouse, but Drew Pritchard perfectly sits in that venn diagram. Like many aspiring dealers, I have followed his TV series, Salvage Hunters, with unadulterated joy. He manages to make a programme that fits the idea of TV as entertainment, while not dumbing down the end product. I feel such joy touring houses, barns and any other places with them as they forage for the next great antique. The antiques' world can feel like a closed shop. I would even go so far as 'snobby', but with Salvage Hunters, you watch as Drew and his good friend Tee sort through the mounds of 'junk' to find their treasure, with an excellent educational narration throughout. I have suggested it to many friends seeking more information about the industry. One friend, who is now a dealer, told me he used to watch it religiously. It was the first step to exiting his old job and becoming a full-time dealer. Not only is it Drew's TV career I admire, but I find myself constantly drawn to his website. I am always curious to see what new delights have made their way there. Whether it's a Howard & Sons sofa or a glorious Regency Window Seat, I always leave wanting around 80% of the site's content.
Drew grew up in Wales. Like many wise children, he disliked school, not because he struggled, but because he perceived much of the curriculum to be useless to his future. Instead, a young Drew Pritchard spent many days wandering around scrap heaps with his friends, finding remnants from WWII machinery, metal scraps, engine parts and other pieces that he would delight in. He would so much enjoyment from the forgotten leftovers that his grandmother referred to his collecting habits as 'shite hawking'. Never a more accurate name for those in the trade.
When Drew was a teenager, he enrolled in the YTS (Youth Training Scheme) where he worked under Gordon Stewart and trained as a stained glass window restorer and conservator. On day one, he was put in a van and driven to a church on the far side of Anglesea that was due to be demolished. Gordon told Drew that all the windows would have to come out, giving him a two-minute lesson on how to do it. Not that he knew it at the time, but the windows he was taking out were a whole row of William Morris and Morris & Co windows. Although he didn't know their history, he was instantly taken by their beauty. Years later, after Drew had set up alone, he had a call from someone who knew his interest in stained glass; they'd just found some in a house in Anglesea and wanted to bring it over. The van pulls up to the yard where Drew is working, and there it was, the exact glass Drew had taken out in 1986, untouched, in a pile in the back of the van. The only difference being that Drew now understood the value of what he was looking at. Thankfully not Drew's last brush with Morris.
Over his career, Drew has handled furniture from the most significant makers and designers in our history. He has unearthed Roman wine coolers used as flower pots, a table by Burges in a girls' school being used to stack toilet paper, and countless other fascinating pieces that have subsequently passed through his hands. He is a wonderful advocate for the antiques industry, using his platform to extol the virtues of reusing pieces that have already lasted years, teaching buyers how best to go about their purchase, and most recently writing 'How Not to Be an Antiques Dealer: Everything I've learnt, that nobody told me'—another excellent tool for those aspiring dealers and collectors. I think it's clear I am a fervent fan, so I was extraordinarily excited that Drew agreed to take part in Tete a Tat.
Tete a Tat With Drew Pritchard, Antique Dealer and Star of Salvage Hunters
Any good advice? Who gave it to you?
Advice, … “We don’t have problems, only answers”…my ex and only Boss the wonderful Gordon Stewart, on my first day of training at 16 as a stained glass restorer, a simple mantra but it works.
Blue.. all shades of blue, I wear it mostly and revel in finding a new shirt in a particularly good hue..colour is a great love of mine and more Is always the answer.
What is your favourite day of the week?
Monday, the promise of a new week and what it may bring. I’m usually travelling to view a sale or see a dealer, I love driving and listening to r4 and r6 on rotation, bliss.
Cooking with my son at home, music on, I’ll do the prep, I take too long but revel in the order of it, I only learnt to cook in the last few years and it’s become a big part of my week,,, I do a mean curry.
What is the best moment in your career so far?
So so many, The end of the first day at the Battersea decorative fair the first time I got it right, and cleared the stand three times over the rush was incredible.
A freshly lit log fire.
Do you believe in ghosts?
No, but if I become one I will Haunt the HMRC for eternity.
Do you like poetry? If so, what is your favourite poem?
Not particularly but if I had to pick a poet it would be Shelly purely for writing The Necessity of Atheism.
If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
Dinner with these four would be riotous.. Joseph Mallord William Turner, John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, William Morris, and my Grandmother “Nin”.
What is your favourite place in London?
My favourite place in London has always been sitting in the back of a black cab…watching the beauty and madness of it all go by, there is no greater city to just “watch”.
What song always makes you tap your foot?
The undertones-Teenage kicks…